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Supreme Court to rule on drug sniffing dogs

The US Supreme Court [official website] granted certiorari [order list, PDF] Monday in Florida v. Harris [docket; cert. petition, PDF] to determine whether an alert by a well-trained narcotics detection dog certified to detect illegal contraband is sufficient to establish probable cause for the search of a vehicle. The Florida Supreme Court held [opinion, PDF], "the fact that a drug-detection dog has been trained and certified to detect narcotics, standing alone, is not sufficient to demonstrate the reliability of the dog." The court found that, in order to establish probable cause under the Fourth Amendment [text], the officer must have "a reasonable basis for believing the dog to be reliable based on the totality of the circumstances." The court concluded, "in this case the totality of the circumstances does not support a probable cause determination."

In January, the court granted certiorari [JURIST report] in Florida v. Jardines [docket, cert. petition, PDF] to determine whether the use of a drug-sniffing dog at the front door of a house is a search under the Fourth Amendment requiring probable cause. The Supreme Court of Florida ruled [opinion, PDF] in April that the "sniff test" was a search under the Fourth Amendment and required probable cause, not reasonable suspicion.

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